The role of efficient buildings in the EU's future energy system

The expected growth of electric heat pumps to supply heating (and cooling) energy to the EU's building stock will require significant investments in electricity production capacities and a respective strengthening of the grid. These investments can be reduced by energy efficiency measures that lead to a decrease in the energy demand of buildings.

Ecofys has carried out an investigation of the potential savings in grid investment by highly energy efficient buildings. The assessment has been done by comparing high and low efficient scenarios and their impact on the power system. We also analysed which savings could be yielded through the increased grid flexibility provided by high efficient buildings.

Highly efficient buildings are thereby beneficial for the power systems in two ways: by reducing the energy demand and by providing a higher flexibility to the grid. The study found that in a high efficiency scenario, 57 GW in peak load can be saved compared to a low efficiency scenario by the year 2050, which equals the current total electricity production capacity of Austria and the Netherlands combined. The impact of energy efficiency on the flexibility of the power systems leads to an additional reduction in peak load of the EU power system of around 12 GW. The potential reduction of peak loads and increased flexibility, considering a high efficiency scenario, translates into 89-153 billion EURO of CAPEX reduction in the power sector until 2050.